About the Book
All of us have been students at some stage, a stage that is the threshold of a new future. During this time, it is teachers who shape our minds and mould our characters. As Henry Adams has said, “A teacher affects eternity.”
You Moved My Life: Heartwarming stories of Teachers who mentored and taught us to dream is a collection of thirty-nine touching stories and essays about favourite teachers who left an indelible imprint on the minds and hearts of their students. Famous CEOs, Vice-chancellors, scientists, doctors, industry doyens, civil servants, writers and educators have written these narratives to pay tributes to their favourite teachers in India and America. The endearingly written stories recreate the picture of the model teacher in the school, college or university classroom working with dedication and devotion. The running theme is the same: Our Teachers changed our lives.
You Moved My Life is a perfect gift to give to your teacher, a prize book for students, an inspirational book to give to aspiring and new teachers. It is a great possession for anyone who has ever been involved in education.
About the Author
Viney Kirpal is Executive President of Global Research Education and Training (GREAT) Foundation, Pune, an NGO dedicated to international level training and empowerment of school and college teachers through Effective Teaching Workshops. Former Professor and HOD of Humanities and Social Sciences Department, at IIT Bombay where she taught from 1974-1997 Dr Kirpal has trained over 3,800 teachers all over the country. She has lectured in India and abroad and has published seven books and eighty research articles in Indian and international journals.
Writing the foreword for this fantastic collection of reminiscences is no easy job. The autobiographical flavour of the contributions is so engaging that one wishes to ask the writers to tell more about themselves as young learners and also fill out the sketches of their teachers with some more telling strokes. At the same time, one gets lost in one’s own past and reminiscences come back hauntingly.
Their recollections, seen against the background of their reflective and mature adulthood, instill life into the stock educational words ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’. They also make readers like me peep into the past and recall school and college experiences of which a variety of teachers formed part. In my recollection, there are a few teachers who could be inspirers and affectionate guides. But there are the indifferent ones too. Also, some are even harsh and hard. All this needs to be critically analysed by expert psychologists.
This collection of tributes to teachers reminds me of what the ancient Tamil poet Tiru Valluvar has said so appropriately: “The peculiar character of learning is that it is a double source of pleasure, an intrinsic joy to him who has the knowledge, and a source of happiness to others that benefit by it.” The positive side of the picture delineated in these reminiscences is certainly important for teacher-education programmes as case-study material. From this standpoint the publication is an extremely valuable addition to educational literature. I congratulate Dr Viney Kirpal on her noteworthy contribution.
We are what we are because of our teachers. This is the recurring theme of this book about favourite teachers. Former students have taken a backward glance at their life in school, college or university to write about those teachers who have contributed to their lives in a profound way. Some have exrolled their schoolteachers while others have written about their college or university teachers. A few have commemorated both. Some stories tell of more than one teacher, while others recall the one teacher who had influenced them most. Some describe their Indian and foreign teachers in India, and others, their Indian and foreign teachers in American universities. The gallery of dedicated teachers is truly awesome. Great teachers stride through the pages leaving indelible imprints of their colossal personalities and stature. The fifty odd men and women, whom their students recall with admiration, are truly unforgettable.
No wonder their students step back in time to record their gratitude to them. They recreate the personalities of their special teachers the way they had come across to them when they were their pupils. Each documents the special meaning that his or her teacher had endowed upon their lives and recalls the genesis of their relationship that had originated at a time when they were callow, vulnerable, confused, and beset by self-doubt.
As they record their teachers’ kindness, thoughtfulness, creativity, and knowledge, famous CEOs like Cyprian D’Souza, former Vice-Chancellors like Professors Amrik Singh and A N Maheshwari, civil servants like P S Palande, army generals like Gen N S Cheema, industry doyens like Lila Poonawalla, and Raja Saboo (also India’s past Rotary International President), writers like Partap Sharma, scientists like Bhatnagar awardee Kumarendra Mallick, Magsaysay awardee and cartoonist -R K Laxman, and many others pen the biographies of their teachers with great warmth, and in an endearing manner. The warmth they exude is the warmth that they had felt for their teachers when they were young children or mere youths. Though the ages of the writers vary from twenty to eighty - the glow of warmth remains unchanged over time.
As one reads the stories of these remarkable teachers, one is struck by one persistent thought, “Were these teachers or were they great leaders?” Did these teachers know what role they were playing in the lives of their students? Did they have a vision of their role? Did they plan in advance to give their students all that they gave them, or was it spontaneous? Did they consciously try to educate them in values, character and attitude? Did they do this knowing how hard was the task they had taken up? Did they do it fully aware of what intractable material human beings are made of? Surely these teachers were not ordinary men and women. Not content to look upon teaching as a job, they had gone beyond the call of their profession to play the important role only a leader can play.
The teachers who live in the pages of this book first made their impact in the classroom. They taught creatively, and took pains to spice their classes with anecdotes and stories. They generated love for the subject by making their teaching as stimulating as possible. They were innovative; they worked hard and they made their students work hard. The students obeyed because their teachers were knowledgeable and they cared. These teachers could skate through the world of knowledge and bring depth as well as breadth to their teaching. They could inspire their students intellectually and move them emotionally. They also knew how to ignite the quest for learning, sometimes through outdoor classes, or a visit to a movie, or through a hobby. They definitely broke through classroom walls.
The model teachers are also remembered for the encouragement they had given their students. Former students recall their teachers’ kind and inspiring words, their fairness in rewarding them with good marks for good work, and counsel when they erred. They laud them for their faith in them, for recognizing their potential, long before they themselves had done so. Their teachers had challenged them to perform beyond their capacity by planting dreams in their heads, and urging them forward when they themselves weren’t aware of their own capabilities. Each contributor has recorded a similar story of debt to their teacher.
What really fascinates one is the way these teachers knew just how difficult it is to be a student. The difficulty of not understanding a language, the inability to grasp abstract mathematical concepts, the difficulty of not being able to relate to urban culture, the difficulty of just being young and unable to understand many things about oneself, one’s relationships, one’s friends, one’s environment. The special teacher is remembered with special regard for that one quality - namely the ability to support a student when he or she needed it the most, and in the best possible manner.
Whether it is the nun who was worried that two of her pupils had not eaten, or the teacher who cycled daily to a Std X student’s home to coach him in sports and save him time for studies, or the teacher who tried to make up to his students for their having missed their holiday to attend an extra class, or the teacher who weaned away a student from the habit of taking tranquilizers - all these are extraordinary acts of empathy, concern and understanding on the part of teachers. This is also the quality of great leaders. An army general can inspire his soldiers to lay down their lives because of the solid support he gives them. A great CEO can inspire ordinary employees to give extraordinary performances. These teachers, whether in the primary, secondary or tertiary levels, were of the mettle of great generals and CEOs. They got the best out of their students because they walked beside them.
It is this quality that each narrator in the book has recalled with the nostalgia of admiration, joy and affection. Each story has a different style which gives a distinct beauty to the narration. Sometimes one hears the rhythms of a vernacular language, and sometimes of an English convent school. What binds the storytellers - all achievers and eminent professionals - is their act of having stepped out of their present status to respectfully pay glowing, well-deserved tributes to their dedicated, selfless and humble teachers. The unconditional gratitude to their teachers who had given them so much, without asking for anything in return, is the highest offering - the real guru dakshina - that any student can ever give to a teacher.
This book truly inspires all teachers to earn a similar offering from their students. Yes, earn it, because out of the hundred odd teachers who teach, there is perhaps just one per cent chance of getting selected by one’s student for that unique honour that has been bestowed on these teachers, and even that one per cent chance can bypass a teacher if the student has more than one favourite teacher!
Hidden in the stories are the secrets of becoming a great teacher -learned, inspiring, devoted, creative, courageous and compassionate. Concealed in them are the numerous techniques and pedagogical methods that creative teachers use. The book holds a wealth of learning for every teacher.
Indeed, every person who reads this book will feel influenced and inspired to excel in the profession he or she belongs to. Students especially will draw inspiration both from the lives of the teachers and the writers who have narrated the stories. While the lives of the teachers exemplify the best qualities of outstanding teachers, the writers too were of the stuff just waiting to fulfill their teacher’s aspirations. When teachers inspired, they (the students) worked hard, and willingly walked that extra mile to realise their teachers’ and their own dreams. Every young student who reads the book will see what it takes to reach the top. It is not what you are born with that takes you there but what you become by developing your knowledge, your skills and attitude. You could be born in a poor home or you could begin schooling in a village but you could end up as a CEO or an eminent scientist. The teachers were the catalysts; the students their eager disciples, happy to let the former turn their lives around. The relationship is mutual.
Thus, every person will benefit enormously from reading these inspiring stories. You can read one story at a time or you can read them in one sitting. The teachers we meet in these pages are role models for every teacher who ever wanted to excel. Their vision, their ability to work against all odds with dedication and devotion, and lead their mentees from the front has been felt all along. This book is a commemoration to the spirit of these great teachers by the grateful students. We are now sure our favourite teachers will live in every heart (as they live in ours), and continue to show the way to thousand others.
Foreword by Chitra Naik
Power of Choice - Lila Poonawalla
Father for All Seasons - Gen N S Cheema
The Eklavya Era - Sharu Rangnekar
12 O’Clock - R K Saboo
Perfect Leaf - R K Laxman
Voice Wisdom - Partap Sharma
Principal Lesson - K S Venkatachalam
The Write Angle - Cyprian D’Souza
A Lesson Learnt by Heart - Ratna Khemani
Turning Point - Padmaja P Godbole
Indebted for a Lifetime - PS Palande
Sister Superior: Above Par - Gayatri Chatterjee
The Art of Conquering Numbers - Nalini Swamidasan
When Teachers Become Friends - Nandita Saikia 54
To Sir, with Love - S K Savanur
Irreverently, Ever Yours - Anjali Ray
A Habit of Benevolence - Geeta Sundar
No “Short Corners” - Arnavaz Damania
Passing the Torch On - Ashok Kelkar
College and university teachers
A Prayer for Talib - Amrik Singh
Electricity at First Sight - V V Athani
A Future in the Past - Sushma Varma
A Scroll of Honour - P C Shejwalkar
The Mathematical Comic - Roop Karnani
A Legacy Unforgotten - Rehana Ghadially
The Physics of Humanity - Subroto Roy
Nobel Teacher - A N Maheshwari
Great and Godly - Kumarendra Mallick
Lady Pacific - Devika Bose
That Touch of Brightness - Kudlu Chithprabha
Literary Blessing - Shridhar B Gokhale
Potter among Pupils - Vinry Kirpal
Some Reminiscences of My Teachers - S Nagarajan
Investment of a Lifetime - Sampat Singh
Net Gain - A A Mutalik-Desai
When Saints Walk the Earth - P G Joshi
Coffee with Archie - Ingrid Arnesen
The Excavation of a True Mind - Sugandha Johar
Perfect Music - Gayatri Moorthy
About the Contributors
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